Zarixia received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. She earned her Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Lawrence J. Stern. There she conducted structural and biochemical research that helped elucidate several aspects of peptide binding to the human class II major histocompatibility complex protein HLA-DR1, an immune system protein that activates a T-cell response. She did a short post-doc in the Pathology Department at the University of Massachusetts Medical School before moving to the University of Puerto Rico as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, where she worked on the immunological responses associated with breast cancer in Hispanic woman.
On May of 2011, Zari moved to HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus to work as a Senior Science Program Manager for the Scientific Recruiting & Training and Visiting Scientists Programs.